More Walgreens Customers Sue Over Insults On Their Prescription Printouts
More Walgreens customers sue over insults on their prescription printouts
By Missy Stoddard
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted March 23 2006
Less than a month after a Palm Beach woman sued Walgreens for labeling her CrAzY!!" and "psycho" in its nationwide computer system, two more Floridians have come forward with similar allegations.
A Palm Beach Gardens grandmother, 64, filed suit Wednesday, accusing the retail chain of negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress for typing in its system in May 2003: "WATCH CONTROLS SHE SEEMS SHADY."
For nearly 20 years, Elizabeth Noah has patronized the Fairway Drive Walgreens near her home in PGA National, she said. So when the retired United Technologies financial analyst picked up a prescription for anxiety medication the evening of Feb. 6, she began to cry when she read the notation on the Drug Utilization Review -- or DUR -- stapled to the bag.
"It hurt my feelings so bad," she said. "I'm always nice. I've been going there forever. I've had secret clearance [at work] and never even had parking tickets. I'm always dressed nicely and have my makeup on and my hair done. I was raised that your reputation goes with you everywhere."
The other Walgreens pharmacy customer, Erin Cutler, 30, and a married mother of three who lives outside Ocala, was shocked when she saw that her Walgreens DUR labeled her a "b----." Also alleging negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, Cutler is filing suit today in Marion County against pharmacist Bruce D. Adams and Walgreens. The initials B.D.A. are typed next to the Oct. 20 entry. Adams on Wednesday referred questions to the Walgreen Co.'s Deerfield, Ill. corporate office.
The DUR is an internal program, accessible to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, according to Walgreens spokeswoman Carol Hively. The nationwide chain's 5,122 stores -- 677 in Florida -- are connected via satellite and each location has access to the information stored in the system, the lawsuits state.
Palm Beach resident Janey Karp, who takes medication for depression and anxiety, filed suit against Walgreens on March 7, after being labeled crazy and psycho.
"The purpose of the notes field [in the DUR] is to help our patients by entering information related to customer service preferences or insurance," Hively said. "Personal or uncomplimentary comments about a patient is a totally inappropriate use of the notes field. This should never have occurred. We take patient concerns very seriously and have apologized to Ms. Karp. We are reiterating our policies with pharmacy staff and have launched an investigation into this matter."
Walgreens has never apologized to Karp, according to Lake Worth attorney Cathy Lively, who represents all three plaintiffs. Noah and Cutler contacted Lively after reading about Karp's case.
Since Karp's case made national news, Lively said she has been flooded with calls and e-mails from Walgreens customers reporting similar experiences across the country.
"It's certainly not an anomaly. It cannot be, there are way too many," she said.
Like her three clients, Lively said most people who contacted her were on medication for anxiety or depression.
For years, Cutler patronized Walgreens when filling prescriptions for anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder as well as birth-control pills, she said. When she refilled her contraceptives on Nov. 7, the DUR was attached to the bag. Reading the slur prompted a panic attack, she said.
"I started crying and I ran to the drawer to get a pill to calm down," she said. "I talked to my psychiatrist. All my fears came out. Everything I always thought came out -- that nobody likes me and everybody talks about me."
Initially too embarrassed and humiliated to confront anyone about it, Cutler said she avoided the store where the entry was made. Then in February her doctor called in a prescription to the store, but it would be weeks before Cutler could get it because the pharmacy repeatedly told her they didn't have it, according to the lawsuit. When Cutler finally went into the store on March 14 she discovered that the initials B.D.A. were those of head pharmacist Adams. She confronted Adams, she said, but he told her someone must have used his initials to somehow log into the system.
"But then he admitted that you needed a password to get in ... and he blew me off and walked away," said Cutler, who now uses another pharmacy chain. "This is the pharmacy that America trusts, that's their slogan. The trust is gone. It shrunk me down and took away some of the work I've put into [managing] my illness."